Speaking up on sexual abuse

Aware hopes its video will empower more women to share their stories and seek help

(From left) Ms Corinna Lim, Ms Devika Satheesh Panicker and Ms Pamela Ng spoke in the video on sexual harassment. PHOTOS: JEANNIE HO PHOTOGRAPHY, TIMOTHY TEO, JASMINE CHOONG

The 10 women appear before the camera one by one, and - without masking their identities - speak about the sexual violence and harassment they have endured, from workplace harassment to sexual abuse to rape.

They tell their stories in a video by women's rights group Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) to launch its Aim for Zero campaign.

This is the first time so many women have come forward on such a public platform to share their experiences, said Aware's executive director Corinna Lim.

Ms Lim, who is one of those featured in the video, said the feat was made possible by the global #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault, which has inspired women to share their stories and seek help.

After the start of the movement in October last year, Aware's Sexual Assault Care Centre saw a 79 per cent jump in cases by the end of last year. In the third quarter of this year, there were 232 cases, up from 100 in the same period last year.

During the two-year Aim for Zero campaign, the centre wants to help more sexual assault survivors and train more employers and workers on managing workplace harassment. Educational programmes and workshops will also be held to educate the public on consent, sexual violence and gender equality.

Ms Lim hopes that the video will be able to empower even more to share their stories.

"When #MeToo happened, it became okay to talk about it. Now we could see that this is unacceptable... If we didn't talk about it, things would just continue the way they were, and perpetrators would get away with impunity," she said.

"Speaking up made a difference."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline Speaking up on sexual abuse. Subscribe